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TIP wants to boost 5G private networks with Open RAN

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TIP, the community that works on the development of disaggregated access networks with standardized interfaces, has formed a new working group dedicated to creating solutions that promote the installation of private 5G networks. Telefónica will be the first operator to test the solutions developed by this working group, first in its laboratory in Madrid and later in field tests in Malaga. The goal is to have private 5G networks that are more flexible and economical than traditional ones, thus contributing to improved connectivity and accelerated rollout of a wider market.

Telecom Infra Project (TIP) already introduced last October what it called “solution groups”, a new type of project group that aspires to combine different open, disaggregated and interoperable network elements to define and validate end-to-end solutions from use cases with specific connectivity needs and that can be used to advantage by telecommunications operators and companies dedicated to connectivity solutions 

Last Tuesday, TIP announced the creation of a new group of solutions, called 5G Private Networks, which will focus on 5G private networks, considered by the organization and by numerous specialists as one of the business segments of 5G networks that it counts with more attractive business opportunities. It is about improving the quality of the 5G connectivity experience that private networks can provide to their users, such as better coverage and capacity through specific radio equipment.

A private 5G network requires a new network architecture, because the traditional one is designed for broad and generic deployments and the specific operations are not economical or flexible enough for the needs of companies

It is also desired that 5G private networks support services with low latency and high bandwidth at the edge of routing and computing the traffic of private data and are prepared for the increase in the demand for analytics of private and localized data. . For operators, it is also intended that this type of private 5G networks create new models for the management and operation of their public telecommunications networks and that facilitate the full automation of the company’s private network, to offer services totally tailored and at the same time easier to implement, cheaper and with a better customer experience.

New 5G private network approach

To achieve these benefits as proposed by TIP’s 5G private network solutions group, a new private network approach is required because, as stated in the TIP statement, traditional operator network architectures are designed for highly deployable deployments. Broad and generic, typically mobile telephony and broadband for the business and consumer market, and operations for specific activities are not economical enough or have the flexibility required to efficiently meet the needs of business customers.

For this reason, the 5G private networks group wants to develop a new way of managing and operating private networks, based on a native cloud architecture and making use of software tools that are currently used in cloud management but adapted to the environment. and requirements of a specific telecommunications network with very specific needs.

“This new group of 5G private network solutions will allow operators to offer more exciting possibilities that 5G is creating to the business segment, through valuable features and more efficient network operations,” said Juan Carlos García, Senior Vice President of Innovation Technology. and Ecosistema de Telefónica, which has just been appointed to the board of TIP, along with Ihab Tarazi, director of network technology and solutions at Dell Technologies.

The objective of TIP’s 5G private networks project is to make them accessible to many use cases and customers, with a standardized product that is relatively easy to implement and an appropriate cost structure.

For Juan Carlos García, the TIP community is the perfect environment for this innovation, because it will allow to take advantage of the work of multiple projects of current groups developed within TIP, such as Open Core Networks or OpenRAN, to offer a viable and simple end product. to extreme. This 5G private network product will be tested in the TIP Community Lab that Telefónica has in Madrid and later in field tests that will be carried out in various use cases in Malaga, to demonstrate its complete technical and commercial viability.

Specifically, the new solution will contribute to providing an improved network economy, through the use of standard hardware and open source software, as well as more efficient and flexible network operations and automation, thanks to the adoption of native cloud technology. . It will also have dedicated high-performance local 5G connectivity and an Edge Computing infrastructure, to target multiple business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) verticals, as well as improved intrinsic security of the network and its benefits.

Objective of the TIP private networks project

The objective of this 5G Private Network Solution Project Group is “to make 5G private networks accessible to a wide range of use cases and customers, thanks to the transformation of fully customized projects to a standardized product with an appropriate cost structure. ”. This group of private network solutions projects will be led and its main manager will be David Martín Lambás, from Telefónica.

For this, the group will develop the necessary requirements for an automated management of the life cycle of 5G private network solutions on native Edge clouds and specific equipment based on CI / CD tools and disaggregated and open hardware components. This private network solution to be developed by the TIP group should allow, as stated in the TIP community statement, a full integration of different functional blocks, such as 5G connectivity, native edge computing and in the cloud and for different use cases.

It also wants to achieve a lower cost structure, thanks to the use of open and cloud-based functions, to maximize the use of private 5G networks and a faster and more efficient installation of private network facilities, as well as their maintenance and updating of the necessary software, through the different units that will comprise the architecture to be developed. In the statement, however, no time horizon is specified for all this new architecture and tools to be available, not even with test cases.

Long cherished target

It has been clear for years that private networks can make companies that use them much more competitive. Initially, its main deployment was done through Wi-Fi wireless networks and later with 4G networks. Lately, however, it has been seen that private networks with 5G are really useful and adjusted to the specific requirements of companies, apart from being reasonably inexpensive.

The main problem with private networks, and not only with 5G but also with Wi-Fi or 4G, is not technological, as recognized by many consulting firms, including Omdia. The still unsolved challenge lies in fine-tuning different use cases and the business side of private networks. The technology to be used is an important issue, as well as the commercial aspect and the profitability of its deployment, but it is also crucial how the technology can scale and expand its applications once the deployment of a private network has begun, says Pablo Tomasi, analyst principal in private networks of the Omdia consultancy.

There is also a need for specialization and specific knowledge in private networks, because it is still an embryonic market. Apart from having enough spectrum and the regulation to support it, companies need to be clear about their needs and make specific demands, so that operators or specialized companies and suitable partners can implement them.

The simplicity and ease of management that Wi-Fi networks enable explain many of the successful wireless network deployments that have taken place in many business segments. The problem, says Tomasi, is that defining a private network is complex. Its characteristics are clear enough for anyone who knows the needs of the market and its requirements but very vague so that providers can build diverse strategies based on these foreseeable needs.

A titanic task

The problem with private networks, in the end, is that there are many vertical sectors, each one with its specificities and with very specific and diverse needs, which require, in practice, a completely tailored suit. To top it all, there are different types of private networks, with their many variants. There are totally private networks, with a fully dedicated infrastructure, hybrid models, with a dedicated and a shared infrastructure, such as a dedicated link network and a shared network core, and virtual private networks that, in reality For many they are not strictly private networks because they use public networks with private software, and all variants of these three main classes.

The task proposed by the TIP 5G private networks working group is therefore enormous, due to the multiple needs that a private network wants or can cover and the different level of demand that will be requested in terms of its robustness, privacy, ease of integration with the procedures of the user company, cost, profitability and schedule of implementation of the new procedures and their knowledge by the employees. For a private network to be effective, it must be able to be implemented in an agile, fast and economic way and achieve the expected results as soon as possible. A private network can be very large or very small; the important thing is that it solves a specific need and problem of a company, regardless of whether it is done with 5G, 4G, Wi-Fi or other mobile technology.

For Omdia, the future goes through the use of 5G technology in private networks but in the short term it is not so clear. 5G is one of the current options and indeed, specialists recognize, it can solve many pressing problems of companies in an elegant and precise way. But this versatility makes the realization of a private 5G network to a specific vertical sector and scenario complicated, and much more to put it into practice.

If the 5G Private Networks Task Force can solve a large part of these challenges, much will already have been accomplished to achieve a faster and more effective deployment than has occurred before. And if, on top of that, it can be done with disaggregated and interoperable elements, as intended, much better. The magnitude of the task is so great that if a substantial part of the objectives is achieved, it will be a success.